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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Two Duke Lacrosse Players Are Arrested and Charged

Two Duke Lacrosse Players Are Arrested and ChargedHeadline news this morning:

Two members of the Duke University lacrosse team were arrested and charged early Tuesday with raping a woman hired as a dancer at a team party, jail officials said.

Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, both sophomores, have been charged with first-degree rape, first-degree forcible rape and kidnapping, officials said. Bond was set for $400,000 for each man.

District Attorney Mike Nifong said authorities were trying to determine the identity of a third suspect.

"It had been my hope to be able to charge all three of the assailants at the same time, but the evidence available to me at this moment does not permit that," Nifong said.

Collin Finnerty
Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnertry

Reade Seligmann Collin Finnerty

Seligmann and Finnerty were each released on a $400,000 bond. Kirk Osborne, Seligmann's attorney called the charges "a miscarriage of justice."

Julian Mack, attorney for Reade Seligmann said:

"I've never seen a case that's had as much pretrial publicity. This is probably the worst miscarriage of justice I've seen in 34 years of practice."

Facts about Reade Seligmann:

  • Reade Seligmann played midfielder (#45) on the lacrosse team. He was listed at 6'1" and 215 lbs on the team roster.

  • He attended the private $22,500-a-year Delbarton School. It is a Roman Catholic private school (grades 7 to 12) for boys located in Morristown, NJ. Seligmann graduated in 2004.

  • Seligmann grew up in well-to-do Essex Fells, N.J. Seligmanns' home is a two-story red-brick house with twin white columns. It is about 17 miles west of Manhattan and within 1 1/2 miles of three golf courses.

Facts about Collin Finnerty:

  • Collin Finnerty played the attack position (#13) on the lacrosse team. He was listed at 6'3" and 175 lbs.

  • Finnerty was arrested in November 2005 on charges of assaulting a gay man in Washington, D.C. Jeffrey Bloxgom said Finnerty and two of his high school teammates (Patrick Bonanno & Daniel D’Agnes) hurled anti-gay insults and punched him repeatedly.

  • He attended Chaminade High School. It is a Roman Catholic private high school (grades 9 to 12) for boys located in Mineola, Long Island, New York. Finnerty graduated in 2004.

  • Finnerty is from Garden City, N.Y., and lived in a Dutch colonial house on a cul-de-sac. A lacrosse net and equipment were visible in the yard, which abuts a golf course.

Collin Finnerty home
The first hearing in this case is set for May 15, 2006.

A legal expert on MSNBC said the case probably won't go to trial until January. This case will be a gold mine for the following cable news and crime shows:

  • The Abrams Report (MSNBC)

  • Rita Crosby Live & Direct (MSNBC)

  • Catherine Crier Live (Court TV)

  • Paula Zahn NOW (CNN)

  • Anderson Cooper 360° (CNN)

  • On the Record with Greta Van Sustere (FOX)

  • FOX Report with Shepard Smith (FOX)

MSNBC seems to have taken the lead on this case both, Dan Abrams and Rita Crosby have done shows from Durham. Rita Crosby had an exclusive interview with the second dancer at the Duke party. Dan Abrams (a Duke graduate) has been writing about the Duke rape case in his Sidebar: blawg about justice.

This case has all the elements needed for high cable ratings and wide public interest: rape, race, sports and a mystery over who to believe.

For example, MSNBC's Question of the day recently was:
Duke rape allegations: Who do you believe?

with 12980 responses-

  • Accuser 48%

  • Lacrosse players 52%

The Johnsville News poll:

Create polls and vote for free. dPolls.com

It would be very interesting to see how this poll changes over time until the case is resolved. Because it will be played out in the media and tried in the court of public opinion until the trial next year. Would the poll results differ between networks? For example, last week Fox was discussing the Tawana Brawley angle on one of its shows.

Tawana Brawley or Big Dan's Redux?

Is the Duke rape like the Tawana Brawley case?
Tawana Brawley was a 15-year-old African-American female who received national attention in the U.S. after claiming she was raped by six white men, some of them police officers, on November 28, 1987 in the village of Wappingers Falls, New York...

The case was thrown out by a grand jury in October 1988, who cited a lack of evidence...

The motive Brawley may have had for faking the attack is not known.

Where Jesse Jackson is playing the part of Al Sharpton in the sequel.

Or is it like the Big Dan's case?
When a young woman was brutally gang raped on a pool table at Big Dan's Tavern in New Bedford, Massachusetts on March 6, 1983. It was the basis for the 1988 motion picture The Accused, starring Jodie Foster.

Or does this case end up like the last college lacrosse rape case from the summer of 1991?

Three lacrosse players at St. John's University stood trial for sexual assault against a then 21-year-old student of the Jamaica, Queens campus.

The incident, according to newspaper accounts, created "chasms within the student body" and invoked much criticism of the school officials' initial reaction to the woman's report.

Charges included sodomy, sexual misconduct, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment. The players faced up to 25 years in prison just on the sodomy charge.

All three players, on July 23, 1991, more than a year after the incident allegedly took place, were acquitted of all charges, causing an even bigger stir in the community.

In the spring of 1994, St. John's played its last men's lacrosse team until its revival in 2005.

Duke Lacrosse Athletes tested in gang rape inquiry [TJN]
Duke University lacrosse team scandal [wikipedia.org]
Duke lacrosse case far more complex than it looks [SI.com, Apr. 18]
Why is Jackson pushing his way into Duke situation? [Philadelphia Inquirer, Apr. 17, 2006]
Comments about the Duke lacrosse rape investigation [mercurynews.com, Apr. 18]
Jesse Jackson offers aid to lacrosse accuser [NewsObserver.com, Apr. 15]
MSNBC's Carlson: Alleged Duke rape victim "a crypto-hooker" [MediaMatters.org, Apr. 12]
Justice 4 two sisters [blog by Krista Summit of Durham, N.C.]
Duke University Scandal [Courttv.com Message Boards]

update April 21, 2006:
Duke Rape Accuser: Crystal Gail Mangum [TJN]